So Michael Owen has announced he plans to retire from playing football at the end of the season. Sadly, his career has slowly petered out over the last few seasons, thanks to recurring injuries. I prefer to remember Owen in the early years of his career.
I can remember him bursting onto the scene as a fresh faced teenager. His performances and goals for Liverpool made such an impact he was soon called up for England. He then became a worldwide sensation at the 1998 World Cup Finals in France. Who can forget his spectacular goal against Argentina? Although the game ultimately ended in a defeat on penalties, the 18 year old Michael Owen had introduced himself to the world and become a part of World Cup history.
Watch Michael Owen’s goal against Argentina in the video below –
Owen made a scoring debut for Liverpool in the 1996/97 against Wimbledon. He went onto score more than 150 goals for the Merseyside club and went on to win the Ballon D’Or in 2001. In 2004 he left Liverpool to join Spanish giants, Real Madrid.
Sadly, Owen never seemed to reach the heights of his earlier years from this point on. He was in and out of the Madrid first team and although he did often score when picked. He scored 16 goals for Madrid, but only stayed for the one season. He returned to the Premier League, moving to Newcastle United for a club record fee of £16.8 million. Now Owen’s bad luck really kicked in. He was plagued by injury at Newcastle and only played fourteen times in his first two seasons. The fans’ became critical (unfairly many would say) and the club even fought the FA for compensation after Owen suffered a serious knee injury at the World Cup in 2006, which practically kept him out for a whole season. Owen’s time at the St. James’ Park club was over but his next move put his name in the headlines again and shocked many in football. He moved to Premier League champions, Manchester United.
Why would United sign an injury prone striker, who most thought his best days were firmly behind him? It was reported that he was signed on a pay-as-you-play contract and he was handed the prestigious no.7 shirt. Once again, injury was never far away and although when he played, he showed glimpses of his old form and scored a few goals, he was never able to command a regular place. However, he did win over United supporters with a dramatic, injury-time winner in a 4-3 derby win against rivals Manchester City.
What turned out to be Owen’s final move was to Premier League club Stoke City. Unfortunately for him, once again, he has failed to win a regular first team place and it must a have been the final nail in the coffin and Owen announced his plans to retire. A somewhat sad end to a career cruelly curtailed by serious injury.
However, as I said earlier, I prefer to remember the early years. Seldom has an English striker made such a worldwide impact at such a young age. It’s easy to forget just how good the young Michael Owen was. Despite his injuries, he has goal rate of 0.45 per game, which is not to be underestimated. Michael Owen can proudly take his place among England’s legends and as an England fan I thank him for the memories and wish him every success in his future endeavours.
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